The Breakfast Table

Better Attitude


I’m back from the gym, it’s stopped snowing, and my attitude has improved. I enjoyed your riff on the Observer. (And, to answer your question–no, I don’t feel guilty, gossip is the staff of life, or at least the stuff of life, or something.) And, in addition, I’m now able to recognize some good news in the daily papers.

The New York Times reports on the front page that “Gun Marketing is Issue in Trial Against Makers.” In the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn opening arguments are scheduled today in a major trial in which Freddie Hamilton, whose son was fatally shot, and the relatives of five other people murdered with guns are suing manufacturers on the basis of their marketing practices. They accuse the industry of being negligent by allowing guns to supersaturate areas with lax gun laws, knowing the weapons will flow through illegal pipelines to places like New York City and Chicago with tight gun control. The case could set a significant legal precedent and the Times reports that legal types in other cities are watching the case closely. That’s certainly true in Chicago.

I’m strongly biased in favor of Freddie Hamilton because my husband Locke Bowman, as legal director of the MacArthur Justice Center here, and his co-counsel Tom Geoghegan have filed suit in Cook County on the behalf of two families who lost children to handgun violence and are making similar claims. The City of Chicago has also launched a case against manufacturers along the same lines as Hamilton’s, specifically accusing gun makers of overselling in the suburbs where guns are lightly regulated, knowing they will be resold illegally in Chicago where there’s an outright ban on handguns.

The more of these cases the better; the handgun industry imposes enormous social costs and one way or another it has to be held accountable. I’m glad to see the Times put the New York case on the front page, marking a wide interest in gun control issues. Guns are one of the least regulated consumer products in our country. And, in many senses, the costliest.

Yours editorializing, Maud